Wednesday, December 10, 2008

December 10, 2008

This picture is similar to the one I posted yesterday. A human being is once again the door into the picture world, or focal point. Strong diagonals - the stair railing, wall along the steps and the boy's own knees - lead the viewer's eye directly to the boy's face. 

The off center positioning contributes to the picture's feeling of being slightly out of kilter, or moody, or melancholy - all emotions a viewer might project onto the picture, based on the look on the boy's face and his body language.

The window in the top left corner represents a potential design problem. Placing a significant object at the edge or top of a composition runs the risk of leading a viewer's eye right out of the picture world. In this composition the saving factor is the diagonal crosshatching of the window pane. The diagonal lines lead the eye back to the interior of the picture world, and encourage us to study the boy one more time.


Judy said...

Hi Jane,
I have just started reading this new blog of yours, and as one who always carries my camera with me, my question to you is, what initially led you to take this photograph? Did you intuitively 'see' the lines and the boy then became your focus, or vice versa?
Thank you for writing this blog and offering it to the masses! I hope I can digest and learn from this gift of yours.


Anonymous said...

Hi Jane

As a newbie to Art Quilts, I am keen to learn as much as possible from everyone else around me. So I have one really simple question - sorry if it sounds stupid but "How do you interpret all of this in the photo?" or "How do you choose what to photograph?"



Jane Dunnewold said...

Thank you for taking time to ask your questions, Leigh and Judy.

I fell into this blog rather than planning it. My daughter gave me a camera for Mother's Day a year ago and I loved the ease of use and also the clarity of the images. Combine that with having a new Mac computer and the Iphoto program, and it was enough to get me started.

Now I take pictures whenever I can, and I try to carry the camera with me. In the instance of this image, the young boy just happened to be sitting on the steps of a museum while other children played around in the courtyard. I was able to catch him in this mood and get the picture, but I have found with people it's hard to do. If you ask them, they become self-conscious. If you don't ask them, you run the risk of offending them. So catching them unaware has been the best strategy so far, although I've missed some great moments because there wasn't any way to get a picture surreptitiously.

In the case of this image, I cropped it to create the picture you see. It would not have been as effective if I hadn't changed it, but that's part of the point of the "practice". If I study design principles then I know how to alter an image to make it stronger. So I experimented with the cropping feature on the Iphoto program until I came up with this configuration.

And, as there are no stupid questions, Leigh, I appreciate your simple one. Many artists intuitively begin a piece, with some idea of where they are headed, but not a clear idea. As the work progresses the idea comes into focus! That's how I work with the photographs. I take pictures I think will be interesting and then when I download them into the computer, I check what I've got. A lot of the time the pictures aren't all that great. But if I continue to take loads of them, then I get some good ones. When I study the good ones I can apply the design principles to make the image stronger - to "support" and build relationship within the composition.

As with all art capable of standing the test of time, I work with good basic visual information, and then I apply design principles I've learned and mastered, in order to create the best visual product possible.

I hope this helps you to understand my process.

Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful photo, and your answers to the questions combined with your comments makes for great lessons. Thank you.

November 20, 2008

November 20, 2008

November 20, 2008

How does color set a mood? The soft gray and white of the carpet, the cat Marshall, and the sunlit window contribute to to the sense of calm repose. What does blue mean to you or me? We all have symbolic associations for colors; some based on personal experience and some instilled culturally. 

The cobalt blue of the vase provides a point and counterpoint to the composition, in addition to providing elements that balance.
Keeping the cat in the lower third of the composition weights the image and is another visual door into the picture world.

November 19, 2008

November 19, 2008

November 19, 2008

This picture tells several stories. It references the human desire to order the world around us - the lettering on the wall establishes the alley as a No Parking zone, and the broken glass-  jutting out at the top - is another message of fear and frailty. Whoever lives behind this wall wants to be left alone.

But there is beauty in the contrast of the rough brick surface and the smooth translucency of the broken glass bottles. A contrast of textures makes for an interesting composition. And the abstract nature of the printed letters against the structure of the bricks would be worth emulating in another sort of composition.

There is as much beauty in decay as there is in a bouquet of fresh flowers. And aren't decay and fresh growth just two different spots on the same continuum?

November 18, 2008

November 18, 2008

November 18, 2008

The Hydrangeas offer a lesson in the effective use of color. The pale blue and lavender are roughly the same value, so they balance each other beautifully. I am challenged to mimic that combination of analogous colors on silk Habotai!

This photograph would be considered beautiful even without the red-orange and yellow flowers at the bottom. But the addition of the complements to the blue and purple creates a focal point and generates some nice contrast because of the complementary pairing. And imagine how different this composition would be, were the red-orange and yellow at the top instead of at the bottom. The current placement adds important visual weight.

November 17, 2008

November 17, 2008

November 16, 2008

November 16, 2008
Being and Non-being

Substance and Light

November 16, 2008

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside 
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the space inside
that holds whatever we want.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

Tao te Ching; Verse 11
Stephen Mitchell translation